May 19 (UPI) — The Greek island of Agios Efstratios declared a state of emergency on Friday due to an ongoing seasonal locust plague, officials said.
Much of the plant life in the Aegean Sea island, which is home to about 200 residents, has been devoured by the locust swarms. Stella Spanou, a local administrator, told BBC News that sheep have even starved due to the lack of foliage.
Students from Athens traveled to the island and sprayed diflubenzuron and spinosad pesticides in attempts to fight the swarms, but the problem continues.
“It’s difficult because of the landscape — they have to go on foot,” Spanou said. “The eco-friendly chemicals are working, they got good results but there are still many locusts because they couldn’t spray everywhere.”
The island, located about 20 miles from the island Lemnos, has one village where Spanou said the chemicals cannot be used. The locust swarms are not thought to be migratory.
Greece’s General Secretariat for Civil Protection declared the emergency Wednesday night at the request of the North Aegean Region due to the insect troubles.
The island’s mayor, Maria Kakkali, said scientists have “studied and concrete proposals have been made to address” the locust problem — specifically, spraying the entire island with an eco-friendly chemical, Greece’s Ta Nea reported.
The mayor said the emergency declaration will allow the problem to be solved more quickly by loosening up bureaucracy.